“Guinness Nitro IPA”?? I know what you’re thinking… This is a coffee and coffee-beer review blog! Guinness Nitro IPA is neither of those things!
That’s a fair assessment. But today’s review is a b-b-b-bonus edition of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe! So I’m reviewing it. And I know what you’re thinking now…
“Guinness Nitro IPA”??
Yes, Guinness Nitro IPA is indeed a real thing. The Ireland-based brewery—internationally renown for their nitrogen-infused Irish dry stout (simply called Guinness Draught—you’ve probably heard of it)—launched the product stateside a month or two go ago. Guinness Nitro IPA uses five hop varieties—namely Admiral, Celeia, Topaz, Challenger and Cascade—to create this hop-forward offering.
Until recently, the world’s largest stout-maker hardly released any new products, aside from natural extensions of their flagship. First came the slightly more alcoholic Guinness Extra Stout; then an even more alcoholic Foreign Extra Stout (which might be the best beer they brewery’s ever produced); Extra Cold Stout appeared next; followed by Black Lager in 2010; Blonde American Lager made its debut last year to, approximately, zero fanfare. Now, in an effort to bolster tanking sales in both the UK and the US, Guinness is attempting to cash in on the “craft beer boom” with the “craftiest” of craft beers—the India Pale Ale.
Enter Guinness Nitro IPA, which is a part of The Brewer’s Project—an experimental side project for Guinness’s brewers to have a bit of fun. To play up how crafty the beer is, the can reads, “Created with passion by Luis Ortega,” the company’s pilot brewery manager. Guinness claims that the beer is “hop-forward” with the “qualities of a classic Guinness pint.” They Guinness-ize the beer by virtue of the fact that they use 1) Irish barley malt, 2) the famous Guinness yeast strain, and 3) their signature nitrogenation, which infuses the tap beers with nitrogen and releases the gas in cans via their widget. This means that it, too, will have the frothy, cascading head that made Guinness Draught stout famous. Which is absurd! Or is it…?
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping Guinness Nitro IPA, from Guinness in Dublin, Ireland. Feel free to pull up a chair.
style: India Pale Ale
color: Dark Amber
ingredients: Admiral, Celeia, Topaz, Challenger, Cacade, Irish barley malt, nitrogen
Pouring the Guinness Nitro IPA into my official straight-from-Saint-James-Gate Guinness pint glass, there are no surprises—the beer possesses a clear, dark amber hue and is topped by a thick, off-white, cascading head.
The beer’s aroma is certainly that of an IPA’s, but it’s way more subtle than it ought to be; bland, really. It’s balanced between the malts and the hops, but the nitrogen infusion really muffles the malts’ toffee and caramel notes and the hops’ floral and citrus nuances. It smells woefully under-hopped for a beer purporting itself to be an India Pale Ale.
Taking my first few sips from the glass, all I can say is that this beer is definitely weird. It possesses a medium body and showcases a massively creamy mouthfeel, which is standard fare for the style. The flavor profile, though… A bit of roasted malts, toasted biscuit (sweet bread), caramel, toffee, floral aromatics, lemongrass, and a citrus acidity. There’s some woodsy/grassy hop character and a bit of caramel malt, but it comes across in such a bland way that it seems thin, despite the mouthfeel. You can taste what they were going for, but they came just short.
While it’s on the taste buds, the beer isn’t too bad; but it suffers from a really bizarre finish that leaves behind a lingering aftertaste which is reminiscent of raw hop cones, yeast, and metal. This wouldn’t ordinarily be so off putting, considering that British and Irish breweries typically employ that crisp metallic British yeast strain, but it just doesn’t work in this beer; probably a corollary result of the nitrogen infusion.
Medium body; creamy mouthfeel; citric acidity; clean finish.
Like an old man desperately trying to fit in with the younger, cooler generation, Guinness is desperately attempting to cash in on the current wave of craft beers. Guinness Nitro IPA is their response to a movement that has left them behind and all but rendered the brewery obsolete.
The problem is, though, that Guinness Nitro IPA, indeed, doesn’t taste very good. It’s a beer that relies heavily on gimmick and not much on quality.
The one redeeming factor is this: I don’t believe Guinness had any intention of creating an India Pale Ale that would be considered in the same regard as legitimate craft breweries. They didn’t set out to outdo the Lagunitas and Ballast Points of the world. Their intention was to simply create Guinness’s version of an IPA—which, I think, they accomplished.
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.